Wednesday, August 5, 2015

There’s more to Skin than Color; Watch your Emotions Betray you

"Day Dreams" 11x14 oil on canvas
Some people are more brittle than others. They can’t endure stress and they get their feelings hurt easily. We speak of them as “thin skinned” and overly sensitive. These internal stressors are played out on their faces. These types usually wear their “hearts on their sleeves.”

On a physical level, some persons actually do have skin that is more elastic and stretchable than others. Perhaps they are more able to roll with the punches and adapt to change. For whatever reasons, some of us were born rigid and inflexible, and others from the start are more laid back and easier to live with.
"Broken Hearted" 9x12 pastel on bristol; matted and ready to frame
We can also misinterpret someone’s “body language.” I’ve seen so-called experts try to decipher what someone was feeling or thinking and sometimes even they are baffled or they get it wrong. Just because someone has a long face or are down-in-the-mouth, doesn’t mean “it’s all about you.”

They may actually be down about themselves and feeling insecure. So many factors play into our emotions: work, family, friends, news, money, a crisis, an illness or fear that it's senseless for us to take personal responsibility for someone else’s mood swings or unhappiness.

For many years, I functioned in “zombie” mode which had a disastrous affect on my ability to experience emotion. I was trying to “keep it altogether” and in the process, turned off my emotions all together in order to avoid outbursts and confrontations. This zombie mode kept me safe, but it certainly didn’t solve any problems.
"Moody Blues" 18x14 oil on canvas
Once I began counseling, it was like the floodgates opened and from then on I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Abuse is abuse and I realized that I had a right to be treated with respect. I couldn’t sit by and allow someone else’s negative insults and putdowns to tear down my confidence and self-esteem. Once the door was open to my inner life and my own self-respect, there was no turning back.

Paintings that tell a story (and most of them do) usually portray some kind of emotion. I like to ask myself “What was the artist trying to say? What is the person portrayed feeling? How do the colors chosen feed into that emotion? Appreciating an artist’s perception of the world and its people is just the first step in discovering more about the beauty and skill that goes into a composition.

(Work in Progress -- "#Hopeful in India" 24x18 acrylic on canvas)
Even the softness or absence of line indicates subtleties expressed, or the hush of deep emotion. Broad swathes of color intensify and exaggerate either anger or exuberance. That’s why each painting can speak to us in a real way and affect us deeply if we allow ourselves to explore the technique used, the color, the subject matter and overall presentation.

According to recent studies, “the six basic emotions – angry, happy, sad, fearful, surprised and disgusted – do not begin to cover the range of feelings we convey with our facial expressions. Using new computer software to observe and record people’s faces, scientists mapped no fewer than 21 emotional states, including apparently contradictory examples such as "happily disgusted" and "sadly angry". Unless I missed it, there is one other emotion that law enforcement may recognize: guilt.

Check this out for yourself: 21 Emotions on Faces
(Work in Progress -- "Queen of Diamonds" 20x20 mixed media on canvas)